Amy Artisan

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Category: Crafty (page 1 of 3)

Color Craze…Color Calm

I’ve mentioned several times before on the blog how I’ve enjoyed some new coloring books and some coloring moments. During the last 3 weeks, the “anti-stress” quality of spending time coloring has come into full for me – time spent coloring has dialed back some of the crazy from an intense couple of weeks at work.


Long days spent in hyper-mode on one project turn to evenings at home where I am exhausted and yet my mind is so restless that sleep is still hours away.

Color 02

Books wouldn’t do (gasp!). Simple knitting wouldn’t do (gasp!). Even “just” watching TV wouldn’t do.

Color 03

So, I reached for my stack of coloring books and my jar of bright sharpies…and within minutes, I would find a zone of calmness and the intensity of the day slipping away from me.

Color 04

I was glad for the variety of coloring books in my stack. Some evenings, a “big” picture was just too much to contemplate and so the pages from the pocket-sized books fit the bill.

Color 04

Whether it was 10 minutes or 20 minutes or more. the time spent in these pages has been “just what I needed” to bring calm.

(And as I was finishing up this simple post, Carole sent this week’s 10 on Tuesday: 10 things to do to calm down…so, beyond coloring…here are a few more of the things that I’ve mentioned along the way that provide calm: knitting (simplicity & repetition); a steaming mug of peppermint tea; time on a recumbent bike can pedal away the day (must start doing this again!); lavender hand lotion; Tazo Wild Orange tea to end the day; listening to a favorite classical guitar album; the glow of a candle on the mantel; at work – the crunch of the lavender sachet that I keep next to my keyboard; looking through favorite pictures/moments on my phone)

What brings calm in your days? Are you coloring much these days? 


Bucketful of Summer…Revisited

Labor Day has passed, Columbus Day is around the corner…schools have been back in session for 4-8 weeks…the sunlight is starting to change…morning temps have already flirted down into the 40s a few times…meteorological summer has given way to autumn…leaves are falling and the season has changed. At the start of summer, a Ten on Tuesday prompt was for things I’d like to do before autumn rolls in. So, as the seasons change, a check-in on the list…

Summer Bucket Scenes


  • Continue to exercise konmari as I tackle the stuff in my house. I recently read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” While I didn’t progress as quickly as I would have hoped, the #konmari is happening in my house. My bedroom and bathroom are complete. The kitchen is almost done. Next it is time to head into my office/guest room and start tackling books and then everything else. To date, a lot of things have exited the house: 12 bags of clothes; a large bag of sample and travel toiletries to a local women’s shelter; kitchen appliances & more that I “had to have” & realize now I don’t need & don’t fit in with life these days; in addition to pulling items for donation, it has also sparked joy to see some items leave my house & go to friends that will enjoy them.
  • See a movie at a drive-in theater. Our intention was good…but the timing didn’t work out to enjoy a kid friendly movie under the stars this summer…there’s always next year.
  • Take in another Iron Pigs baseball game. The last Sunday in June was a perfect day to take in a double header from the Bacon Strip
  • Add another presidential library to the “I’ve visited” list. (Truman, Carter, Reagan, Bush 2) Yes and no. The intent was to tour the FDR library as our family vacation in New York began. We ended up not having the time to tour – but post cards were picked up. It is on our list to do another time.
  • Can some jam. Definitely achieved – through 2 canning adventures. The first time was a Sunday afternoon with Gretchen and her girls at their house. Later on, a couple of hours in my kitchen yielded tomato jam. Now, I have jars stored in the closet for gift giving and meal enhancement as the seasons change and the summer produce becomes a distant memory.
  • Enjoy some family vacation time at summer camp in upstate New York. Most definitely achieved! This is a week that is staying with all of us and definitely goes in the pantheon of great family vacations.
  • Send a pack of t-shirts away to become a t-shirt quilt. My pack of t-shirts has returned to me from a visit to the textile factory in Massachusetts and is now a cozy quilt for cooler days ahead. I’ll share the quilt in another post.  
  • Achieve my “summer reading challenge” at the local library. My target is 12 books – of course, they consider summer to end on August 18th. Where’s my reading ribbon? I completed a baker’s dozen by Labor Day. Reading is a year round sport for me and I have several reads going at any one time. I set a 2015 reading goal on GoodReads for 40 books in 2015 and I’m well on track to meeting (& maybe surpassing?) that goal.
  • Spend some time coloring in my copy of “the” Secret Garden coloring book I picked up in London last summer. While I didn’t color in the Secret Garden, I have had fun coloring in the Paige Tate coloring books. This is an activity that is staying in rotation.
  • Complete a photobook for 2013 or 2014 with the Shutterfly Photo Story app. So this didn’t happen. While I have both photobooks started, I just didn’t find the spark to dive in and complete them this summer. Historically, I’ve been more productive with scrapbooking in cooler months…I’m anticipating this item will happen as the temps drop.

While I didn’t completely fill my summer bucket list – without a doubt the bucket has been filled with fun (&productive) times. As the seasons change and routines shift, I’m pulling together new items for my list – it will be fun to see what happens as the pages of the calendar keep marching onward.

What was on your list of goals for the summer? Did you achieve them? What is on your list for autumn and winter?

Who Loves Ya?

For Valentine’s Day this year, Artisan Mom tucked in a little owl stitching kit with my card. On Saturday, she laid down the “rules” that she needed to see a picture of the stitched & stuffed owl within one week of Valentine’s Day.

Who Loves YaTuesday evening, after a long day of “babysitting a computer” this was the perfect way to unwind – in just a few minutes I had stitched & stuffed this cutie

I must admit, it was fun to spend the couple of minutes on this. I see more of these sorts of kits in my future – for a quick break for me to then be popped in the mail to brighten someone’s day.

Collective Crafting

There are so many types of crafting these days – a quick look in my spare room confirms the variety of crafts that I dabble in. Many times, it seems as though “like congregates with like” and you have to pick your craft for an event: knit/crochet nights, scrapbooking weekends, etc. Here in Chicago, a “movement” is underway to change that and bring together all types of crafting for an evening of fun. On Friday evening, I participated in the second Chicago Craft Social. The premise is great:

150 crafters + 10-12 hosted craft tables + tables for other crafting
= an evening of collective crafting


I went to the evening not really knowing what to expect. In my bag was my current knitting project. A quick look at the list of hosted crafts for the evening had me wanting to try them all. After walking around all the tables, I decided to work on Embellished Napkins for the evening.

Getting Started

Erin showed us how to use her self-designed clear stamps and in no time at all, 6 of us were figuring out what our napkin designs would be. Chelsea, Chris, Jesse, Charis, Cindy, and I quickly got to work. Once the napkins were inked I decided to brush up on my embroidery skills a bit & do a few embellishments to the leaves & buds. While I’ve done some embroidery in the past, the french knot always gave me fits. After Erin showed it to me, I felt like it finally clicked. I jokingly said the evening was a success because I had finally mastered the French Knot.


At the end of the evening, each of us at the table had a set of napkins stamped & were each well on our way to having the embroidered embellishments finished.


So many times, I have discovered that my crafting has provided “small world moments” in meeting people. Small world moment #1: As I was signing in for the evening, I discovered that one of my co-workers was leading one of the tables. Since we haven’t worked for the same clients, we didn’t realize all the crafting that we had in common. We’ve decided that we will need to get together for our own crafting night soon.


Small world moment #2: After the fact I learned that a friend from my Kansas days (who now lives in Thailand) was college suitemates with one of the organizers and had been seeing Megan’s blogging in anticipation of the event.

All in all, it was a great evening of crafting & inspiration! The knitting & crafting have been a bit less in recent months; however, I think this was just the jump start that I needed jump back into some of my artisan pursuits.

Lovin’ Crafts

One of the ‘pitfalls’ of having a lot of ideas to craft for the holidays is that you think of things so far in advance, think it is too early to start on them and then before you know it, the holiday has passed and your crafty ideas are still just ideas. In the past couple of years, I’ve managed to be fairly realistic about the Christmas projects – although there are a few ideas that have yet to be made.

Valentines for Rebecca  Valentines for Mom  Valentines for Friends

This Valentine’s Day, the crafting ideas & the timing came together and I was able to create a few simple ways to send some love to family & friends – through knits & cards. In early January, I came across a pattern for a heart shaped dishcloth – a variation on my “go-to” Grandma’s favorite dishcloth. In no time, I had one on & off the needles.

A Valentine for Dad

Ah ha, a Sweet Spa valentine was in order. Throughout January I continued to knit up some hearts – there is no shortage of dishcloth (er, facecloth) cotton in the artisan stash. I then turned to Etsy & found some cute handmade soaps to complete the gift. For Grandma, since I was already making some more comfort cloths I knit a super soft heart to include for her.

Comforting Grandma

Next up, cards. Between blank cards, stamps and lots of fun papers I have plenty of supplies for making cards. On a Sunday afternoon I pulled out the supplies and had my Valentine cards drying on the mantel in no time. I had 3 flavors to the cards – for most, I used the hearts stamp set that I had picked up several years ago; for a few friends, I used some origami paper that has been “marinating” in my craft stash for a while; and for Miss Butterfly & Miss Doodlebug, I had fun with some itty bitty stamps – using the flower to create their initial.

Valentine Cards

Looking ahead to other holidays this year, I’m hoping that this “on top of it” approach will hold. In fact, I’m already thinking of some “Christmas in July” activities. What about you?

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